In rotation: 6/24/21

Record Store Day 2021’s First Drop Sparks 1.5 Million in U.S. Vinyl Album Sales: Record Store Day 2021’s first drop, held on June 12, helped sell 1.546 million vinyl albums in the U.S. in the week ending June 17, according to MRC Data. That’s a record for a Record Store Day week and the second-largest week for vinyl album sales since MRC Data began electronically tracking sales in 1991. The only larger week for vinyl album sales since 1991 came in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020, with 1.841 million sold. Further, with 1.209 million vinyl albums sold at indie record stores in the week ending June 17, that marks the largest week ever for the format at the indie sector in MRC Data history. It surpasses the previous MRC Data-era high for weekly vinyl LP sales at indies: 733,000 sold in the week ending Dec. 24, 2020. Record Store Day, the annual indie music retailer celebration, is being staged over two days in 2021 — June 12 and July 17 — owed to complications caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Traditionally, Record Store Day is held on one Saturday.

Philadelphia, PA | A peek inside the world’s greatest record store: A lovable grouch, obsessed with the magic of American sidewalk harmony, runs the Philadelphia shop. I first heard about Val Shively—a legendary figure among serious record collectors—from a friend of mine in Philadelphia named Aaron Levinson. He’s a Grammy-winning music producer, composer, DJ and rare vinyl collector who has been buying records from Shively for 40 years. “He has a store called R&B Records in this sketchy neighborhood out past West Philly,” Levinson told me. “The building is listing like the Tower of Pisa because he’s got five million records in there. It’s likely the biggest record store in the world and collectors fly in from the U.K., Germany, Japan and wherever else, in order to buy from Val. But if they say something wrong, or he doesn’t like their attitude, he explodes in an unbelievable rage and throws them out of the store.” Levinson continued, “He’s a born-again Christian who curses like a mobster. He’s a white guy who went nuts for Black music when he was young and never recovered. He’s the authoritative collector of doo-wop records on the planet and one of the greatest record collectors of all time, even though his genre is narrow.”

Lansing, MI | Michigan’s only female-owned record store is in Lansing: There are more than 60 record stores in Michigan, but only one is owned by a woman. DeWitt resident and owner of The Record Lounge, Heather Frarey, is that woman. Her shop is right here in REO Town. “It’s amazing. I always want to shop here,” said vinyl collector Ella Spencer. “Women-owned businesses are incredible especially in a music scene, because that’s kind of hard to find.” “I worked really hard to get to this point,” Frarey said. “My husband and I, we were in a bad motorcycle accident in ’99.” Frarey was a dental assistant in 2007 when she realized that because of the accident, she was no longer able to stand for long periods of time. So, she had to find something new. “The only thing I knew was music and vinyl,” Frarey said. She worked at a record shop when she was in high school. Frarey opened The Record Lounge on January 2, 2008. Thirteen years later, her record store is thriving.

Elmira Heights, NY | A new and unique music store is set to open in Elmira Heights: A one of a kind business is preparing to open in Elmira Heights. Squatch Den is aiming to open on July 2nd. The Squatch Den will sit in a plaza right on College Ave. across from Thomas Edison High School. It grew out of the Squatch In the Pit website. The store is dubbed, a one-stop music shop for vinyl, music apparel, and even photography. The owners had planned to open the music store back in 2020 but were delayed because of the pandemic. Half of the store will be dedicated to record sales and the other half will be a dedicated photography studio. They say customers can expect all the best music on vinyl and CDs. Aaron Cullen, one of the stores owners, says it’s the perfect place to find a variety of music including early 2000s EMO music. The Squatch Den will also be holding live music regularly with some bands already booked for this year.

Las Vegas, NV | On The Record at Park MGM opens July 2: “…On The Record offers visitors a unique twist on the Las Vegas nightlife experience with its iconic spaces including the double-decker DJ booth, the karaoke rooms and the Vinyl Parlor,” said Ann Hoff, president & COO of Bellagio and Park MGM. “We look forward to the Fourth of July weekend as Las Vegas visitors will join us in celebrating the reopening of our speakeasy and club, as well as the return of major entertainment at Park Theater.” Conjuring a feeling of nostalgia inspired by different musical eras, the 11,000-square-foot three-room On The Record is a hidden club experience driven by Jonnie and Mark Houston’s award-winning interior design. A functioning record store entry with a robust vinyl collection available for purchase, indoor and outdoor spaces, a double-decker bus DJ booth and patio bar, and three hidden karaoke break rooms are among the venue’s unique features.

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